A kayak fishing paddle: big shoes to fill. That’s all I got to say when it comes to picking a new new one. A paddle will last you for years…decades in fact. Back in the early ‘80s, I was photographing kayaks for several different companies and that is when I acquired my go-to paddle that was used for everything all these years. It was a big bladed heavy expedition grade layup that had a fairly short shaft; giving it a high aggressive paddling angle. It served me well for 30 years of hard use, but then the epoxy in the shaft began to deteriorate and those tiny fiberglass fibers didn’t feel too good in my hands, arms, or legs (it is amazing where you lay your paddle while fishing). With the coming of these new wide fishing kayaks and a worn out shoulder, I found myself needing a new light paddle that was long but still light. I tried several different brands and blade shapes and sizes, deciding I still liked the strong catch of a larger blade…but didn’t like the short shafts and intended high paddling angle the available large bladed paddles offered. Then I came across the Eddyline Big Fish. The Big Fish is a full sized blade design that provides the power I have gotten used to…this power helps get larger fishing kayaks up to speed and also provides me with a good sense of security when a strong brace is needed from when a rogue wave or boat wake hits. This larger blade offers excellent versatility when it comes to changing conditions on longer trips. The carbon fiber shaft is light weight and is now available in the longer lengths kayak fishermen need, especially if they do any stand-up paddling and fishing. The long shaft provides extra reach to get that blade in the water when standing up and gives a stronger sweep stroke when turning these big fishing kayaks. A longer shaft also allows the paddler to use a lower stroke angle, taking much of the strain a higher stroke angle creates on your shoulders.
On the water, my new Big Fish is everything I would expect out of a top end paddle. The fit and finish is excellent. The graphic inlaid material made into the blades give mine a personal touch. The adjustable push button ferrule on the shaft is a tried and true simple design that absolutely works…it was the same style as my previous paddle that lasted over 30 years. The simple intuitive design allows for no feather in the blade angles, or left and right feather at 45 degrees. Having fewer moving parts than other paddle designs, the Big Fish’s design is more reliable in the long haul or in sandy conditions that can lock up and stick more complex ferrules. There are no fancy painted on graphics or fish measuring scales that can quickly wear off as soon as they get the first dose of sunscreen from your hands.
My first impression fishing in a small pond, the paddle felt right at home. It was my first longer trip out on more open water with high winds that I could really tell a big difference in this paddle and the much shorter paddle I was used to. The gusty winds wanted to really grab the blades and I know this had to be the extra leverage the longer shaft places on the paddle and not the blade size itself since my old paddle actually had larger blades on it. The longer length will take a bit more to get used to, but I know I’ll appreciate it a great deal more once I get used to the change. The physics and geometry of using a longer paddle can lead to some interesting conversations on the kayak forums and chat pages. A group of us fishing kayakers had a great discussion one evening trying to figure out the physics behind a shorter or longer paddle, leverage, and which length was better. It pretty much boils down to personal preference and which length feels the best and suits your paddling style the best. Both have their pros and cons.
With the longer Eddyline Big Fish that I chose, accelerating from a dead standstill requires a lighter stroke to keep the bow from wagging from side to side, but once some hull speed is acquired, less energy seems to be needed to keep that hull speed going. Since the stroke angle is lower, less water runs down the shaft into the boat. This lower stroke angle also results in much less joint pain at the end of the day in my worn out shoulders. If you have bad shoulder joints, you know raising your arm up high for anything can result in pain. Repeated raising and lowering your arm by paddling any extended distance can not only add injury to that worn out joint, but it can also be just plain torture after several hours on the water. The longer paddle shaft puts the blade all the way in the water at a much lower angle…and that means less pain from the shoulder joint.
Other benefits of a longer paddle? I can reach and push off of objects from even the front of the boat before it hits anything. I like to fish in areas that snakes like to live in…and so do the wasps. Shallow marshy areas with shrubs and stickups tend to attract fish and it is easy to drift into these objects while fishing. I even have a tendency every now and then to throw my lures into spots like this, so it is nice to have the extra reach a long shafted paddle gives to snatch a lure out of a bush or push off before you are in that bush. You have extra reach to shove off of submerged objects too and the Eddyline Angler series paddles all have that extra reinforcement in their blades so you don’t have to worry about snapping one when pushing off. Now stand up and paddle. That extra reach allows you to easily use the paddle much like a paddle board paddle without having to bend over to reach the water like you would with a shorter paddle. The longer reach also gives you a forceful sweep stroke to turn your boat much quicker when needed.
The next day out was with my daughter. It was her first time out in Eddyline’s new C135 Stratofisher. We left the fishing rods at home and intended to just spend the afternoon paddling and enjoying the early spring-like weather. She started out with her own 230cm paddle and she commented that her strokes felt like they weren’t doing anything. Well watching her for a bit, it was easy to see that only 2/3rds of her blade were hitting the water. The boat was much wider and she had the seat in the high position, so her paddle was just too short for today’s modern fishing kayaks. I gave her the new BigFish and presto…everything changed. Now her paddling efforts were much more efficient; I wasn’t too happy using her short paddle, but it was neat to see how she could really tell that having the right length paddle for the boat and use did in fact make a big difference.
So what size should you look for? Well I definitely recommend going to your paddling shop and talking with them. Go out on one of their kayak demo days and ask them to bring out several of their paddles in different lengths and blade sizes so you can try them out and see what blade size feels the best for your paddling style. It is generally recommended for most sit-on-tops that the average person use a 230-240cm paddle for most situations. If you are a taller paddler, go with the longer paddle. With today’s wider fishing sit-on-tops that are as wide as 34” to 37” with high and low seating positions, I recommend using a 250cm paddle for users under 6’ tall and going to a 260cm length for users over 6’1”. It may feel awkward at first using a paddle this length going from a shorter paddle, but once you get used to it and try going back to a shorter paddle, you’ll want that longer paddle back.
Submitted by Dan Arbuckle – Headwater Kayaks – Pro Swift (Formerly Skookum)
I really enjoy the feel of the shaft in my hand. Having the texture from the carbon makes the paddle feel less slippery in my hands as oppose to other paddles that I use. The thing I am most excited about on the Skookum is the blade shape. Bravo Swift for seeing the need for a high performance, high angle paddle that excels not only in rock garden, and surfing situations, but also on an all day tour. The short squatty blade gives paddles like myself the ability to take short hard stokes to get up to speed when catching a wave, or shooting a slot. Three hard stokes and my boat is up to speed. Being shorter, it also allows me to slice it through the water when linking stokes and bracing. The power and grab is incredible when pulling out of an eddy and getting speed to catch a wave. You can lay hard on a low brace, and with the flick of the wrist you can spin the paddle around and grab a hard draw stoked to pull yourself across current. Once on a wave, the slight curvature of the blade shaft to tip gives you a nice feel in the water. During a stern rudder, you can easily angle the paddle to ether pry the stern away or draw the stern back towards the paddle. It is a very rewarding paddle for those learning boat control and advanced stokes, like draws and rudders. Although the Skookum (Pro Swift) excels in these dynamic environments, what really surprised me was how it felt on a long all day flat water paddle. The paddle is so light that you barely notice that you are holding anything at all. It pulls effortlessly though the water, and does not pick up much water on the exit. Even with my paddle being a 205cm I didn’t notice any issue with hitting my boat during my forward stoke. The paddle catch is solid and gives you nice purchase throughout the stroke. The dihedral on the paddle seems to really keep the paddle square in the water without the tendency to wander. I also like the overall size of the blade for touring. Although it is a shorter blade it is not overly large, in fact it has even less surface area then the Sea Swift. This allows me to paddle all day and not feel tired. It is not like some other high angle touring paddles that feel like a lightweight version of a white water paddle. Swift did an excellent job combining the most important elements of a high angle paddle – control, power, and efficiency. I feel like they are setting the bar high for other paddle companies to shoot for.
Janet Moreland – Paddled 4000 miles down the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers
My Swift paddle is to my Shasta kayak like a comfortable saddle is to a faithful horse. I love my boat and my wings, and cannot imagine paddling 4000 miles with any other combo. Thanks, Eddyline, for producing superior quality paddling equipment.
LoveYourBigMuddy Expedition watching waves while waiting for the wind to die down on Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota.
Read about her expedition here
Submitted by: tsunamichuck
I have been using Windswift paddles for the past 11 years. I have and use other paddles, but always pick up the Windswift for any paddles over 20 miles and most other times too. My current version is a 1 piece 210cm graphite. Very light and efficient. I find the Windswift to be the most versatile paddle. I can use it at high or low angles. Plenty of power to drive forward and brace in the soup. I have done 35 mile crossings with my my Windswifts and have bashed them against coral. They have held up fine. A friend of mine still uses the Windswift I gave him and it is 11 years old. Rating: 10 of 10
Russ Andersen, Staten Island, New York
I have used your paddle for a bit over a hundred miles, and I am happy to say that it paddles beautifully. The paddle tracks true through the water on every stroke, and very powerfully. It feels very comfortable and natural in the hand, and the locking mechanism is tight and true. The blade itself, being very close in size to a Bending Branches Day paddle, moves through the water with significantly less flutter than the Bending Branches model, and much more efficiently. My next paddle will be the Swift Graphite model. I still think if it was possible, that adding another layer of the design fabric on the back of the paddle, or coloring it would make it much more cosmetically appealing. I personally feel that it is light enough where as the slight weight increase would be a non factor. As a matter of fact, my paddle weighed in one and a half ounces lighter than it was stated the weight would be.
Swift makes a line of beautiful breakapart double-ended, adjustable, kayak paddles that have become my absolute favorites. If I ever lend it out for a quick demo/comparison, it is extremely hard to get back! The beautiful, jewel-like transparency of the paddle blades come in red, yellow and blue and even lots of different patterns. The blade design is a slightly spoon-curved “leaf shape” that is amazingly efficient. Got the first paddle in yellow and then loved it so much, splurged and bought a second paddle in graphite/carbon…it is wonderful for long distance touring and I have no problems when hitting major headwinds. Do not experience any flutter with this and the connection is nice and snug. Rating: 10 of 10
The Swift is very light and well balanced. My wife is the primary user. I bought it for the light weight and somewhat smaller blade area. After 3 years the joint is tight and the blue blades show a few scratches. The darker color does show more than white. The transparent blades may look fragile but are not, they do receive comment from others and are unique. Rating: 9 of 10
Robby V. Brown, paddling.net
I own every model Swift paddle. I also own about a 18 other paddles of various brands. The Swift paddles beat every other paddle hands down! My favorite is the “Sea Swift” (Thanks Joe!) My students get the opportunity to try all different brands: Werner, Lendall,etc. By far they choose Swift as their favorite too. I would give all my other paddles to have just 1 Sea Swift hands down. It is the finest paddle I have used in 20 years of paddling. Light, pleanty of power, and tough as nails.. With virtually a flutter-free design and light weight, they slice through the water with ease. I have broken several other name brand paddles, but never a Swift. Buy one! Rating: 10 of 10
WindSwift. WOW… Splurged for an early birthday/Christmas gift to self and am going to re-splurge and get another. AWESOME! Rating: 10 of 10
Adopted a Translucent Mid Swift when i purchased a used kayak locally. Love the paddle. Lightweight and strong. Definitely has helped my carpal tunnel. Rating: 9 of 10
Purchased a Mid-Swift in yellow this past spring – the best paddle ever! Handles wind beautifully, and my shoulder fatigue is non-existent. Plan to get one for my husband. Would highly recommend!!! Rating: 10 of 10
We utilize top of the line swift fiberglass paddles for instruction and tours. while expensive, the best, strongest, lightest, highest quality,most durable paddle we have. spoils participants for anything less. Rating: 10 of 10
T. Hardy, paddling.net
I used Eddyline’s Swift paddles on my Nautiraid Expedition II on a solo trip among Maine islands in 1997. The foldable kayak is heavy (72 lbs unloaded) but with the ultra light weight Swift paddles I could maintain a comfrotable cruising speed for most of the day and when I lost one half of one paddle, I got a replacement half from the factory for around 100.00. A bit more than half of the original price. Replacement requires sending the half that you have to fit the new piece. may take time but worth it. Rating: 10 of 10
I’ve got a Swift WindSwift and its a great paddle – light and strong. (I even slammed a car door on it once and it stayed perfectly intact.) It feathers well for both left and right handers (my wife’s Werner only feathers for righties). Not everyone may like the extremely low profile – but the difference is noticable in even a light wind. This will be my paddle for years and years. Rating: 9 of 10
Team NKF Norcal and their Swift Paddles flying along on Lake Tahoe at Primal Quest 1
Dear Swift, We want to extend our most sincere gratitude for the phenomenal paddles that you supplied for our adventure racing team (Seagate Adventure aka NKF Norcal). We had a very successful season this year. At the beginning of the year we cringed at the thought of a kayak leg (especially flat water). We would always lose time on this leg. Once we got the new paddles all of that began to change. As we got comfortable with the paddles our kayak legs were improved dramatically. On our last race of the year (the Cal Eco Finals) we found ourselves passing teams right and left. At the end of the true paddle leg we were in 4th position chasing the world-class teams Montrail, Earthlink, and Epinephrine.
In The Subaru Primal Quest, we found ourselves in the top 20 after 2 CPs and before our rescue of another team. We lost serious ground in this effort to assist another team (of which two members were hypothermic). We also raised over $13,000 for the NKF Norcal Kidney Transplant Team.The mid swift has served us extremely well this entire season with its lightweight and very durable design. The paddles were used in a shoulder-to-shoulder teammate-to-teammate fashion to tote deflated kayaks between them for over 5 miles. After a season of serious use, these paddles still look and feel fantastic.
As Team Seagate Adventure we finished 4th in the Cal Eco Series. We were also the first entire team to be awarded the prestigious hard driver award. The high performance Swift paddles were a huge part of our success in this series of 5 races. Again, thank you very much for helping to make our season a huge success. Pete Gibson, Daniel Dittmer, Chad Milner, & Marnel King
I’ve been using a Swift paddle for about 4 months now and it continues to perform extremely well. Most of my outing take place on weekly basis for a relatively short durations (2 – 4 hrs).The paddle is lightweight and very durable, no signs of wear yet. After looking at and trying a number of different paddles, I don’t think you can make a better choice than a Swift paddle for the money. Rating: 10 of 10
Purchased two Mid Swift paddles this Spring and FINALLY got to try them out this weekend! They were wonderful to paddle! My wife felt they were less tiring and she even stopped mentioning the price!!! Nice solid feel for such a light paddle. Didn’t notice any flutter in the paddle. Rating: 10 of 10
My paddling buddy bought a Swift narrow blade fiberglass paddle this spring and I was foolish enough to try it. Now I am smitten. This has to be one of the best if not THE BEST, lightest, most comfortable sea kayak paddle there is. It comes in some really swift colors, and feels like holding a feather. There seems to be no weight to it. Beautiful finish and nearly seamless ferrule. Expensive yes, but will spoil you for life. Rating: 10 of 10
I love my Wind Swift paddle. It’s light, strong, and very comfortable to paddle with. Love the designer fabrics as well! I haven’t noticed any flutter, and I really like the feel of the graphite shaft. Rating: 10 of 10
I recently bought a Swift paddle and I love it! My father bought a Werner paddle the week before me and as soon as he used my swift paddle he immediately went and bought one for himself. His Werner paddle is now a spare!! Rating: 10 of 10
I bought a midswift paddle at the beginning of this season and it improved my kayaking experience at least 100%. Unfortunately my wife kept asking to borrow it, so I had to buy her one also. I modified my paddle by adding “cork-ribbon” to create padded handles. Cork-ribbon is normally used by touring bicyclists on their handlebars, but I found that it works great on kayak paddles also. It is extremely light and does not absorb water. It makes paddling a lot more enjoyable without having to wear gloves. Rating: 10 of 10
Rick D, paddling.net
My first paddle was a Mid Swift. When I purchased my second boat and needed another paddle I went straight for the Mid Swift. A true pleasure to paddle. Strong enough to push off with but light enough for an all day paddle. Try a $100 paddle weighing a ton or two and you won’t mind the cost of this 1.25 pound pleasure! My wife even bought one!!!!! ;-) Rating: 10 of 10
Rated a 9 simply because, hell there might be a better paddle…I just haven’t found it yet. I tried a Mid Swift at a demo-day and was ruined from that point. I was a bit short on cash and wound up getting a Bending Branches Day Breeze in fiberglass in a package deal. The Bending Branches isn’t a bad paddle, but it just felt soft in the water and definitely didn’t have enough catch to it to be fast enough for my boat. I could outsprint the paddle’s grip and it was pretty irritating to force the paddle along. I just got a Mid Swift in 240cm, what a difference. One of those things, when a boat or gear feels right…just buy them. I finished about a 10-12 miler today in stiff wind and chop and this paddle with it’s knife edge catch and very firm ‘grip’ on the water performed beautifully. I can finally sprint up to hull speed with a paddle up to the task. Rating: 9 of 10
Wife bought a Swift paddle with a fabric design and I had to have one. Light, great quality, very stiff and efficient. Beautifully made. Boat moves right along and I feel much less fatigue. Be sure to use a paddle leash so you don’t lose such a beautiful paddle. I keep a “bigger” paddle in the hatch for a spare and for those occasions when I feel particularly strong and have a race face on. Rating: 9 of 10
A joy to look at and a joy to use ….. wow …. it doesn’t get better than that. I have owned several paddles during the 8 years I have been enjoying the sport, but I can’t imagine topping this one. I have the Swift mid-sized model with yellow translucent blades …. 230. Really exquisite, very light, the configuration of the blade allows the blade to bite the water and move it almost effortlessly. Pricey and worth every cent. One thing I have added to my onboard gear is a stout mop handle to push off any oyster beds I might come up on ….. not about to subject my beautiful paddle to abuse ….. Rating: 10 of 10
Wind. Fantastic. Had it for a year now, it been in creeks, streams, Lake Ontario when it’s not so pretty, and off the coast of Maine in trying weather. I’ve swapped out with other kayakers to give their paddles a whirl and am always glad to have ol’ Red back. Now if they added a slight bent shaft to this design… hmmmmm. The only time I have ever wanted another blade is on some faster flowing creeks. There it’s just a simple matter of power per stroke, so more area would be nice. Looks like I need a Mid Swift! Rating: 9 of 10
The more I try out other paddles, the more I realize what a gem my Mid Swift is. There are others that are very nice, mind you, but I haven’t found one yet I like better. It’s super-light yet (so far) amazingly durable. Picking up a moderately-priced aluminum or glass paddle feels like picking up crowbar compared to my Swift. I suppose the best thing I can say about it is that I never think about my paddle when I’m using it. It doesn’t flutter, doesn’t get heavy in my hands, and is just completely transparent in use. I tried a bent-shaft model that I liked quite a lot, but enough to abandon my Swift. Expensive but worth every penny. Rating: 10 of 10
Bill Weeks, paddling.net
My wife and I both use Sea Swifts and have left our Werners in the garage to gather dust. She was warned by a salesman that the paddle might be too powerful for her – but they are so light that the extra size is not an issue. They make a huge difference on a long paddle! Highly recommended — well worth the cost! Rating: 10 of 10
My paddle of choice is the “Wind Swift”. We often paddle in windy and stormy conditions. After trying a friends wind on a stormy day I rushed and bought one. I’ve used it on multi-day trips in a fully loaded boat and found it exceeded my expectations as well as those paddling with me. If you want a paddle thats easy on the body but preforms well, this may be the paddle you are looking for. Rating: 10 of 10
Mid-Swift Graphite 2-piece w/ new Feather-lock new ferrule system, 240cm. One cool thing about Eddyline/Swift is that you don’t hear a lot of hype about their products. But if you did, you could believe it all when it comes to this paddle! This paddle is light (very light!), strong, has exceptional balance and swing weight, the ferrule lock system is solid, easy to use and easy to keep clean. The ability to set feather at 0, 45, 60, or 75 degrees is a great feature from a user friendly perspective, however most experienced paddlers will usually set it at their one preferred angle. I was glad to be able to duplicate the 45 degree angle of my Lightning. Eddyline reportedly redesigned the Swift’s blade shape in 2004. They really got it right. The carbon fiber blade is quite stiff, showing no flutter and a very solid “hold” feel in the water, even if you’re not paying attention and hit it off angle. Exit is clean and low drag/no vibration, with very little drip. The shaft is very stiff, slightly ovalled, has just enough surface texture to provide a good tactile grip feel, even if you got your hands all greasy from putting sunscreen on your girlfriend’s back. This paddle is very light, but its design and stiffness left me with no fatigue or wrist/elbow shock after my initial 3 hr paddle with it. And you gotta love the cool holographic thread design!! I think it actually attracted a school of curious rays out on the Chesapeake. It certainly provides an extra measure of visibility over plain black graphite models. I have been using a Lightning Expedition weight paddle for many years now. Anyone who knows Lightning paddles appreciates them for their quality and regrets they are no longer in production. This new Swift Graphite will give it a much deserved rest. Rating: 10 of 10
I love the paddle and will be getting a second one as a spare. Thanks, Alica Leppanen, La Conner, WA
Thank you for the color in our life along with the ease of use of the paddle. My first paddle was a Werner purchased for me by my spouse. I only needed to touch it and immediately new it wasn’t what I wanted. I returned the gift and got the swift I wanted (the red and green chilli peppers). He was not happy till he stopped talking long enough to try my new paddle. He found out what I saw in it. The shaft was shaped different than all others. Its like it was designed for smaller hands. Then when it was put into the water it was amazing how smooth it was. Now he is hooked. We own 6 of them now, all different prints and different types. Great job guys and gals.
I received a beautiful, tropical Swift paddle for a gift from my son quite a few years ago. Wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Besides being the perfect paddle, the tropical colored blades makes it quite the conversation piece when I go on the club paddling trips.